Prometheus is without doubt a Ridley Scott film, sharing a lot of it's DNA with Alien. Visuals, aestethics, editing, conceptual designs, lighting and so on – pure Alien territory. It looks and sounds fantastic, perhaps with one exception I'll talk about later. The first act establishes the (main) characters, the worlds, the larger thematic undercurrents at play. Humanitys origins. Our place in the Universe. Our purpouse.
Story- and pacewise, you can draw a loose comparison to the first part of Alien, fused with the last part of Aliens. From character building, pieces of exposition etc. into a rollercoaster final where the momentum just builds. Just not as good as those two movies when measured directly. Prometheus does not give itself time to dwell in dark Nostromo-like corridors and otherwise, just attempt to generate mood from very little happening on screen. It's not Alien in that regard. The pace is faster and there's a lot more dialogue between characters. The finale has some problems with stitching some scenes together to make the flow and edit seem as 'natural' or effortless as Aliens.
Gotta mention the opening 10 or so minutes – absolutely breathtaking and spectacular. The best segment Ridley has made since Gladiator. From the early Earth sequence to the crew awakening and getting up to speed with current events, this is stellar. The 3D works really well – easily the best use of the technology I've seen since Avatar +2 years ago. It's all about depth and scale when it's utilized. Often you don't actually notice it – dialogue scenes etc – just as it should be.
Michael Fassbenders David really shines – it's mostly through him and his almost childlike but razorsharp curiosity, the most profound discussions are channeled. Easily my favorite character of the film next to Shaw. It's not really an Ash or a Bishop infused performance – if anything, it's more akin to Roy Batty, speaking with the voice of Peter O'Toole. Think a bit of Ian Holms cold portrayel when it comes to interacting with the humans, fused with a bit of Bishops essentially benign servant nature and then wrap it around with Battys intensity, playful, constantly emitting some degree of inner doubt with small gestures and facial tics. A quite restrained performance.
The 3 mains – Fassbender, Rapace and Theron are pretty strong overall (although Vickers fate comes seemingly out of nowhere and to little effect), so much so that you could argue, that the other performances suffer somewhat from it. Should a directors cut arrive on home video, I would expect some of the added scenes to flesh out some of the supporting characters more – I'd welcome that very much. Janek and his flight crew could benefit from some more interaction, although Janek gets to have some pretty good scenes with the main actors. There are some bodyguard-type characters that are never given any attention whatsoever and that's fine. They are just around to be part of the background. You could get rid of half of them scriptwise and no one would notice.
Cvalda was right all along about LMG
– he's a douchebag, portraying a douchebag in a douchebaggy performance. I don't really care who's to blame in the end. Basically the character just doesn't work as intended as it is.
Personally, I'd have liked the film to dive just that extra layer into the themes it puts up there, but it does indeed seem like Lindlof, Spaihts and Scott came through with their Q&A statement about not offering definitive answers to some of the plot points, background etc. On one side, I agree with the notion that it's essentially the questions and what asking those questions does to us, that's at the core of a well told story and perhaps not the answers themselves, however alluring it is 'to know'. On the other hand, I can understand how the ambiguity will cause some critisism and I'll agree that the story pretty much abandons this strand when the action kicks in and right up until the end. One scene depicts a couple of the main players questioning the engineer, but they don't see eye to eye on what they should ask him. It's a great scene as it is, but would have had more resonnance, if the themes had been brought up more to the forefront of the film up until that point. We understand what this place essentially is about (massproduction of death – you noticed that skull on top of the temple?), what this group of engineers were up to and why the last one cannot be allowed to go to Earth. But nothing more. It's up to you to speculate further down that road.
The one thing that didn't quite work for me design-wise, would be some of the creatures. I don't mind the engineer design and execution. Neither do I mind the choice to promote the mechanical designstrand as opposed to the bio/sexual designstrand (Alien) in the alien/engineer designs. But some of the underling creatures, including the starbeast, just doesn't quite work for me in the context of the film I'm watching. Especially the lighting and edit of the starbeast facehugging a certain individual.
Another thing that seems like it should have been completely reworked was the ending reel. It should have been adjusted storywise, dialogue and the edit. Right now, the ending seems somewhat 'unfinished' or rushed, which was the biggest surprise of the film to me, considering the talent involved.
I'll stop here for now – it's 1:30am and I have other stuff to do here before I turn in
Overall I think it's a good film, but not great. Visually and with regards to sound, it's second to none. This needs to be watched on the big screen – the bass sounds when the juggernaut is activated and 37 other scenes (at least) is just unbelivable. My seat was literally shaking. My main problems are with the ending, a couple of character interactions don't quite deliver and the thematic ideas could have been scrutinized deeper to a greater effect.
Characterwise, I'd give it a solid 7 of 10